Festival calls for Black audiences to see Black films

By Charles Hallman
Staff Writer

‘Ultimate goal is to be premier film festival in Midwest’ pledges founder

Since its founding seven years ago, the Twin Cities Black Film Festival’s (TCBFF) main purpose is to provide independent Black filmmakers a platform to showcase their cinema work.

Festival founder Natalie Morrow says she constantly hears that Blacks often don’t support film festivals, even if they are films made by and about Black people. She adds that this also is said by other local film festivals’ organizers. Morrow annually works to disprove this belief.

“We have a big enough Black community that they should be coming out and supporting it,” she points out. “We want [TCBFF] to be the biggest festival this year because [others] are seeing us as their competition and looking down on us.”

Although there are similar Black film festivals held elsewhere around the country such as in Los Angeles and Atlanta, Morrow pledges, “Our ultimate goal is to be the premier film festival in the Midwest. We want people to travel from all across the country to come here. I want this to be something different: an educational, family-oriented event.”

Each year a variety of films and documentaries — a couple of them full-length movies — are featured with guest appearances by actors, producers and directors, along with panel discussions and festival parties.

TCBFF opens its eighth season this weekend, October 15-17.

The Inheritance, a horror film starring Keith David and Golden Brooks (Girlfriends), is the opening-night film on Friday, October 15, at 6:45 pm and will be shown at AMC Block E Theater, followed by a question-and-answer session with cast members and the producer.

All other festival films are scheduled to be shown on the third floor of the Hotel Ivy, 201 South 11th Street in downtown Minneapolis.

This year’s panel discussion centers on the topic of health and wellness and will be held after the showing of Why Us? Left Behind and Dying, a story about a group of inner-city Black high school students examining why HIV/AIDS so disproportionately impacts Blacks and Africans more than any other group.

“This is something we want everybody to see,” says Morrow of the film, which is scheduled for 12:20 pm Saturday, October 16.

The festival’s final day features two tributes, one to the late Gary Coleman at noon with a 1995 Martin episode. “I still feel that regardless of all the things that happened to him, he was a child star for us,” explains Morrow of the former child star of the 1970s. Coleman played an ex-convict whom Martin once helped to imprison and now is out looking for him. “He [Martin Lawrence, who plays Martin] was afraid of Gary Coleman and hears his voice all the time,” says Morrow.

“We always try to show a classic film,” notes Morrow of Stormy Weather, scheduled for 4:05 pm, that stars Lena Horne. “This was the film that really put her on the map, and it also gives a history on who paved the way, whether it be in dance, film or whatever the case would be [for Black performers].”

Among the documentaries are Emmett Till (3:25 pm Saturday), Ni Wakati (It’s Time) featuring hip-hop celebrities Dead Prez (7:05 pm Saturday) and Haiti – The Wake-Up Call (6 pm Sunday).

Several local filmmakers also are featured, including Lee Jordan’s We Turned the Page (3:50 pm Sunday) — “It’s about the first African American who received a library card,” states Morrow — and Admonitions by Kareem McCoy (5:40 pm Sunday). “It’s about a young guy who has ESP, but he doesn’t know how to use it,” she adds.

The closing night’s feature film is My Girlfriend’s Back, starring Tangi Miller and Malik Yoba (7:35 pm).

Morrow devotes most of her time to looking at films to present each year. “It’s a lot of work — it takes a whole year to really plan this,” she says. “I think it’s easier because I know what I’m looking for …The amount of [Black] films is increasing each year.

“I would like to see more people of color [attend],” says Morrow. “We want it to be enhanced by our community.”

For tickets and other information, call 612-309-3818 or go to www.tcbff.com.
Charles Hallman welcomes reader responses to challman@spokesman-recorder.com.